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The rag and bone shop /

Trent, an ace interrogator from Vermont, works to procure a confession from an introverted twelve-year-old accused of murdering his seven-year-old friend in Monument, Massachusetts. Full description

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Format: Book
Language: English
Published: Delacorte Press, 2001
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SUMMARY

Twelve-year old Jason is accused of the brutal murder of a young girl. Is he innocent or guilty? The shocked town calls on an interrogator with a stellar reputation: he always gets a confession. The confrontation between Jason and his interrogator forms the chilling climax of this terrifying look at what can happen when the pursuit of justice becomes a personal crusade for victory at any cost.


Review by Booklist Review

Gr. 8-10. Terse and terrifying, this final book from Cormier will leave a lasting impression. Jason, almost 13, is a shy, ineffectual child, who takes being bullied as a matter of course--but if he sees someone else being pushed around, he may strike back. When the seven-year-old girl who lives next door is murdered, Jason is horrified. He was the last one to see her alive. He wants to do everything he can to help find the killer, so when the police come calling, he tells them all he knows. What he doesn't know is that Trent, a detective adept at extracting confessions, has been called into the case--and Trent has Jason in his sights as the murderer. Cormier presents a cat-and-mouse game so tense that readers will feel they must escape the pages just as Jason wants to extricate himself from the stuffy, cell-like room where his interrogation is taking place. But this is not just Jason's story. Cormier delves into the psyche of Trent without much of a nod to the fact that this is a book for young people. Readers will get a glimpse into the adult world, and find it sad and ugly. The book's horrifying, surprising conclusion will engender discussion, and there may be disagreement about how well it works. Yet, it's hard to imagine any reader not coming away from this shaken. Cormier, who died last year, leaves at the top of his game. --Ilene Cooper

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Cormier's (The Chocolate War) final novel, published posthumously, is characteristically dark and thought-provoking as he delves into "the foul rag-and-bone shop of the heart," (from the Yeats poem). The author offers an in-depth study of two complicated characters: Trent, an ambitious and renowned interrogator who holds a perfect record wrenching confessionals out of criminals, and 12-year-old Jason Dorrant, suspected of murdering his neighbor, seven-year-old Alicia Bartlett. The killing attracts much publicity plus the attention of a senator. The local police, anxious to solve the case quickly, call on the expertise of Trent to get Jason, the last person seen with the victim, to confess to the crime. The interview between Trent and Jason evolves into a taut, sinister mind game as the interrogation expert twists the boy's thoughts and manipulates his words. Jason parries the insinuations and accusations against him to the best of his ability, but finds himself questioning his own sense of reality. The tension mounts as it becomes increasingly evident that Trent is more concerned with getting Jason to say the words he wants to hear than discovering what really happened on the day Alicia died. The chilling results of the questioning will leave an indelible mark on readers and prompt heated discussions regarding the definition of guilt and the fine line between truth and deception. Ages 12-up. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by School Library Journal Review

Gr 7 Up-Cormier revisits familiar psychological and temporal territories in this memorable novella that was finished, but unpolished, at the time of his death. It's the beginning of summer vacation after seventh grade for Jason when his neighbor and friend, seven-year-old Alicia Bartlett, is murdered. Even though there is no physical evidence linking him to the crime, Jason is a suspect because he is thought to be the last person to have seen her alive. An ambitious, outside police interrogator who has a reputation for being able to extract a confession in difficult cases is brought in. Although Trent comes to believe that Jason is innocent, he succumbs to pressures of a high-profile investigation and successfully coerces a confession. Unfortunately for Trent, Alicia's older brother Brad confesses, is arrested, and charged. The interrogator is left with a tattered reputation and in the shocking denouement, Jason realizes that he has become a person capable of contemplating and thus, he asserts, carrying out a murder. The suggestion seems to be that childlike innocence, when betrayed by powerful, manipulative adults, can be easily subverted. Readers are shown a psychotic killer in the process of becoming. However, Jason, Trent, and the book as a whole present more questions than answers. Readers will be compelled to keep turning the pages, but will never know why Brad killed Alicia or if Jason is really capable of such a crime. These are things only individuals can know as they explore the dark interior of their own rag-and-bone shops.-Joel Shoemaker, Southeast Junior High School, Iowa City, IA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
AUTHOR NOTES

Robert Cormier began writing novels for adults, but established his reputation as an author of books for young adults, earning critical acclaim with three books, each of which were named New York Times Outstanding Book of the Year: The Chocolate War (1974), I Am the Cheese (1977), and After the First Dark (1979).

Cormier was born on January 17, 1925, in Leominster, Mass., where his eighth-grade teacher first discovered his ability to write. Cormier worked as a commercial writer at WTAG-Radio in Worcester, Mass. He also worked as a newspaper reporter and columnist at the Worcester Telegram and Gazette and at the Fitchburg Sentinel. Cormier received the Best Human Interest Story of the Year Award from the Associated Press of New England in 1959 and 1973. He also earned the Best Newspaper Column Award from K.R. Thomson Newspapers, Inc., in 1974.

Cormier, who is sometimes inspired by news stories or family events, is known for having serious themes in his work, such as manipulation, abuse of authority, and the ordinariness of evil. These themes are also evident in many of his more than 15 books.

(Bowker Author Biography)


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